If you've ever suffered from chronic body pain, you'll know it can be debilitating, affecting every aspect of your daily life.
While there are many synthetic medications on the market that can deliver short term relief, using 'self care' as a more holistic solution can be a more sustainable way of overcoming chronic pain over the long haul.
Here, we reveal the most effective natural solutions for managing chronic pain so that you can find ongoing relief and take back control of your mobility and physical body performance.
1. Low-Impact Movement
Regular low-impact exercise is crucial for managing chronic pain because it stimulates blood flow and helps to keep your muscles and joints nimble and flexible.
While high-impact exercises such as running, weight lifting and interval training are not advisable when dealing with chronic pain because of the stress they place on the body, low-impact activities such as walking, stretching, swimming, yoga, pilates, cycling and tai-chi, can aid the recovery process.
Remember, your body is meant to move to function optimally, but the secret is to listen to the feedback your body is giving you and to choose exercise that can support rather than hinder the process of healing from chronic pain.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese modality that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body that balances the flow of energy or life forces known as Qi ("Chi") throughout the body to facilitate healing and pain relief.
Qi flows through meridians, or pathways, in the human body.
These meridians and energy flows are accessible through over 300 acupuncture points throughout the body by inserting tiny needles into these points in appropriate combinations to bring the energy flow back into balance.
It is also believed that the physical stimulation of needle insertion at these sites may affect pain processing in the central nervous system and muscles, which increases blood flow to certain parts of the body.
Many individuals with chronic pain experience significant improvements and pain reduction after undergoing acupuncture sessions. If you're going to experiment with acupuncture, be sure to find a licensed and experienced acupuncturist in your area for the best results.
3. Healing Hands - Massage, Chiropractic and Osteopathic
The power of human touch as a tool for healing pain has been understood for centuries. This is why certain ancient cultures referred to modalities that involved touch and joint/muscle manipulation from the hands of another as the "Healing Hands".
The most common forms of healing hands modalities that can be used to manage chronic pain are professional massage, chiropractic and osteopathic treatments.
All of these disciplines have their place as both preventative and pain management therapies and should be experimented with to find what works best for you and your body.
Massage is very effective for easing tired, sore and stressed muscles, whilst chiropractic and osteopathic remedies are designed to help realign the spine, joints and to restore mobility to the body.
4. Heat & Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapies are simple yet effective ways for managing chronic pain because they stimulate the nervous system to create a healing response in the body.
Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps the muscles to relax, while cold therapy reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow.
A heat treatment can be anything from applying a heat pack to an affected area, to taking a hot salt bath or sauna to help relax the muscles and increase blood flow throughout the body.
Cold therapy, such as ice packs, ice baths, cold showers or cold compresses, can reduce inflammation and numb the area to alleviate pain.
Both treatments can be combined in the same session e.g. hot to cold to hot to cold, to 'shock' the body into a state of healing or they can be experimented with separately. The key is to try a few of these solutions to determine which works best for you and your specific pain condition.
5. Mind-Body Techniques
Mind-body techniques focus on the connection between the mind and body, helping to alleviate pain and promote relaxation.
Practices such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and decrease pain perception.
By cultivating mindfulness and practicing these techniques regularly, you can develop coping strategies for managing chronic pain.
6. Lifestyle Modifications
Making certain lifestyle modifications can have a positive impact on your ability to manage chronic pain.
Maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and managing stress levels are essential components to giving yourself the best chance of avoiding chronic pain in the first place.
Next, it's important to pay attention to your diet and to adopt nutritious eating habits that revolve around whole foods that are anti-inflammatory. These include, seasonal locally sourced fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, pasture-raised/organic animal products, good fats such as olive oil, avocado oil and flaxseed oil, and the avoidance of processed foods and refined sugars.
7. Essential Oils
Essential oils are known to be "analgesic", meaning they are naturally pain relieving.
Before western medicine, many cultures relied on the natural analgesics found in pure plant essential oils for healing instead of the over-the-counter synthetic analgesics like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which most people use today.
Essential oils come in hundreds of varieties, however there are a select group of essential oils known particularly for their pain relieving and even healing powers when applied topically. These include:
Frankincense - known as the 'king of essential oils', Frankincense has many amazing properties to help with pain relief, reducing swelling, skin abrasions, muscle tension and nerve pain.
Frankincense can be mixed with a carrier oil for massage or added to a hot salt bath to help relieve tension, aches, nerve pain and arthritis. Blend Frankincense, Peppermint and Lavender to bring down swelling and reduce pain.
Peppermint - a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic essential oil, the main chemical component of peppermint is Menthol, which has very soothing properties. Peppermint is known to ease headaches, neck and shoulder tension and muscular aches and spasms. It relaxes muscles in the lower back as well as intestinal spasms and pain often caused by fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Lavender - renowned for it's calming and relaxation properties, Lavender is a fantastic all round oil to ease tension in the body and promote quality sleep. It can be used topically by applying a few drops to the balls of the feet, temples, bed linen/pillow or a hot bath.
Eucalyptus - perfect when added to a soothing hot epsom salts bath or for topical massage when mixed with a carrier oil, Eucalyptus is useful for easing pain after exercise. It is recommended for treating nerve pain, sprains, strains and muscular pains and aches.
The Main Take Away
Living with chronic pain can be challenging, but there are natural solutions that can definitely help you regain control when you have a 'self care' mindset.
By incorporating low-impact exercise, 'healing hands' modalities, mind-body techniques and some basic adjustments to your lifestyle, you can go a long way to avoiding and managing chronic body pain.
As always, listen to your body and choose practitioners that are both experienced and intuitive in their approach to treatment so that you can have the best chance of healing and moving forward with a pain-free life.
Tolman Self Care.